A tribute to a great artist, a series of German faces, a big film of tiny things, some drawing restraint, and a bunch more in this week’s roundup:
- The Emilio and Annabianca Vedova Foundation in Venice was preparing an exhibition of works by Season 1 artist Louise Bourgeois when they received news of her death last week. The exhibition — the last in which Bourgeois was actively involved — now serves as a tribute to her life and work. Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works mostly comprises montages, collages and assemblages made of pieces of her own clothes and linen. Some fabrics in the show belonged to members of Bourgeois’s family including her mother. These works are, according to the Foundation, “a reincarnation of the past and of [Bourgeois's] childhood, as well as a testimony to her relationship with memory.” Bourgeois explained what drove her to create these works: “I make drawings to suppress the unspeakable. The unspeakable is not a problem for me. It’s even the beginning of the work. It’s the reason for the work; the motivation of the work is to destroy the unspeakable. Clothing is also an exercise of memory. It makes me explore the past: how did I feel when I wore that? They are like signposts in the search of the past.” The fabric pieces are shown together with Bourgeois’s large steel sculpture Crouching Spider (2003), a recurring motif in her work. Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works is curated by Germano Celant in collaboration with Jerry Gorovoy of the Louise Bourgeois Studio. The exhibition is on view through September 19.
- Works by Bourgeois (Season 1), and Jeff Koons (Season 5) are included in the exhibition 200 Artworks 25 Years: Artists’ Editions for Parkett, on view at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI). Organized by STPI with the cooperation of Parkett Publishers and Ikkan Sanada, the show fills five rooms with artists‘ sketches, letters and other material documenting collaborations between artists and Parkett. The rooms have been designed to evoke the feeling of different living spaces: a Studio, a Playroom, a Wardrobe, a City, and a Garden. In addition, a Reading room encourages viewers to browse Parkett‘s recent volumes and its page art projects. 200 Artworks 25 Years closes July 17.
- Friedman Benda Gallery in New York is showing works by Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman (both Season 1), and Janine Antoni (Season 2), among others, in the group exhibition Other Than Beauty. The show focuses on post-war and emerging artists, whose practices have “established new paradigms of art-making” and “disregarded the primacy of formal and aesthetic beauty.” Via the press release, “By pushing the boundaries of meaning and form, these artists have, over time, expanded our ideas of what beauty can be.” The gallery has juxtaposed works from these early artists with those from younger generations including Sterling Ruby, and Chitra Ganesh, who also “challenge our expectations and expand the lexicon of both art and beauty.” The exhibition closes July 30.
- On June 11 and 13, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will host the New York premiere of Tiny Furniture, an award winning film by Lena Dunham, daughter of Season 4 artist Laurie Simmons and painter Carroll Dunham. The film concerns the character Aura, who returns home from her Midwest liberal arts college to her artist family’s Tribeca loft with nothing to show but a film studies degree, a failed relationship, and a total lack of direction. Taking a job as a hostess at a restaurant, she falls into relationships with two self-centered men while struggling to define herself. According to BAM/IFC Films, “Dunham’s razor-sharp dialogue drips with caustic wit, perfectly calibrated to both cut and provoke laughter in this incisive examination of post-college ennui and self-actualization…” Lena Dunham writes, directs, and stars in Tiny Furniture. Simmons also makes an appearance in the film. The first screening will be held inside BAM Rose Cinemas. The second (presented in collaboration with Rooftop Films) will take place outdoors.
- Going to the World Cup or already there? See works by Kara Walker (Season 2), Jenny Holzer (Season 4) and William Kentridge, and Yinka Shonibare MBE (both Season 5) in the exhibition and event series In Context. Organized by Goodman Gallery, the Goethe-Institut, CulturesFrance, the French Institute of South Africa, the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Galleria Continua, the British Council, the Apartheid Museum, the Kirsh Foundation, and Nirox Foundation, In Context brings together works by international and South African artists “who share a rigorous commitment to the dynamics and tensions of place, in reference to the African continent and its varied and complex iterations, and to South Africa in particular.”
- The 13th edition of PHotoEspaña 2010, an international festival for photography in Madrid, includes a show of approximately 60 photographs and 3 videos by Collier Schorr (Season 2) from her series German Faces. This series is described as “a photographic imaginarium that mixes documentary with fiction, where the German landscape is a map of her own story, both imagined and inherited. Combining the roles of photographer, anthropologist and researcher, [Schorr] narrates the tales of a place and time determined by memory, nationalism, war, emigration and family.” German Faces (which has been in progress for the past twenty years) is on view at PHotoEspaña through June 25.
- Through September 10, works by Robert Adams (Season 4), Mary Heilmann, and John Baldessari (both Season 5) are on view in the group exhibition On the Road at ArtPace in San Antonio, Texas. The exhibition takes its title from a book by American poet and novelist Jack Kerouac, which recounts his road trips across the United States in the late 1940s. On the Road investigates the mythology of the American motoring adventure as it began to develop in the early 1920s, with the advent of immense expansions of the highway system, particularly in the West of the country. The first part of the exhibition presents artists whose images and works have long been associated with the exploration of the West by way of the automobile. The second part is the result of a recent two-week excursion through Texas by the curator, during which a number of artifacts and documents were collected for display. Read an interview with the curator in Selectism.
- On June 12, Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland will open Prayer Sheet With the Wound and the Nail, an exhibition related to the Drawing Restraint series by Matthew Barney (Season 2). Curated by Neville Wakefield (MOMA PS1), the show includes 16 sculptures, drawings, videos, and a “Drawing Restraint Archive” of videos recently acquired by the Laurenz Foundation. According to SLAMXHYPE, these artworks will be juxtaposed with 15th and 16th century prints to, says Wakefield, “draw parallels, not only with the trials and tribulations of mark-making, but with Christian iconography and Matthew’s representation of the body in extremes.” Prayer Sheet With the Wound and the Nail will close October 3.
- A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, a collaborative project by Mike Kelley (Season 3) and Michael Smith, made a splash in Los Angeles with nearly 1,000 people attending the opening. Read the LA Times article.
- The BMW art car created by Jeff Koons (Season 5) has finally been unveiled. Read reports from the New York Times, New York Observer, Wall Street Journal, Nitrobahn, Motor Trend, and Wired.
- Vija Celmins (Season 2) talks to Phong Bui of the Brooklyn Rail about her current exhibition at David McKee Gallery.
- The Warholian has created a video about the Oakland Museum of California installation by Barry McGee (Season 1).
- The Art Newspaper has an update on the legal battle between James Turrell (Season 1) and art dealer Michael Hue-Williams.
- An LA Weekly reviewer calls work by Tim Hawkinson (Season 2) now on view at Blum + Poe “funny funny funny.”
- Variations and Improvisations, a solo exhibition of works by Robert Ryman (Season 4) on view at the Phillips Collection, is reviewed in the Washington Post.
- Design Folio has images of the individual works and installation by Hiroshi Sugimoto (Season 3) for the 17th Bienniale of Sydney.
- Laurie Anderson (Season 1) and Lou Reed presented their highly anticipated “dog concert” at the Sydney Opera House and, according to The Baltimore Sun animal blog, it received “two paws up.”
In today’s roundup, you’ll read about rabbits and cracked eggs, love in the Ole South, community art making in the Twin Cities, an amusement park in Paris, a family of photogenic dogs, artists in avian form, a sliced car on the move, and a few big awards, among other things:
- The short list for the 2010 Hugo Boss Prize has been announced and Season 5 artist Cao Fei is one of this year’s finalists. In a new video about the award, Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and chair of the jury, explains that the prize was created in 1996 to “honor innovation in contemporary art, and to single out artists who were creating truly inventive works of art.” The biennial award is administered by the Guggenheim Foundation and juried by an international panel of museum directors, curators, and critics. The prize sets no restrictions in terms of age, gender, race, nationality, or medium, and the nominations may include established individuals as well as emerging artists. The 2010 prize carries with it an award of $100,000. The prizewinner will be selected and announced in November 2010, and the artist’s work will be presented in a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2011. Previous winners include Art21′s Matthew Barney (Season 2), and Pierre Huyghe (Season 4).
- South African Projections, an exhibition of four short animated films by Season 5 artist William Kentridge, opens at The Jewish Museum, New York on May 2. The films — Johannesburg—2nd Greatest City after Paris; Mine; Monument; and Sobriety, Obesity and Growing Old — all revolve around two fictional Jewish characters, the bloated industrialist Soho Eckstein, and the vulnerable artist Felix Teitelbaum. They begin as alter egos of each other and exchange attributes as the sequence progresses. “The characters,” according to the museum, “metaphorically play out the social, political, and moral legacy of apartheid as they go about their lives.” The films are hand drawn using a process that Kentridge calls “Stone Age.” He creates large-scale charcoal drawings which he then erases and redraws, filming them in the process of transformation. South African Projections will be on view through September 19. (Kentridge’s solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York closes May 17.)
- Slow Fade to Black, a solo exhibition of works by Season 5 artist Carrie Mae Weems is up at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York through May 22. Through paintings, videos, and photographs, Weems presents the “burning saga of Mandingo, love, longing and the relations of power, miscegenation, and masochism simmering in the Ole South.” In this tongue-in-cheek historical drama, Weems aims to open and close the door on the past while imagining the future.
- Sexuality and Transcendence — a major group exhibition featuring works by Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman (all Season 5), Jenny Holzer (Season 4), Hiroshi Sugimoto (Season 3), Louise Bourgeois, and Matthew Barney (both Season 1), among others — is on display at the PinchukArtCentrethe in Kiev, Ukraine. The show addresses artistic approaches to and the tension between “raw sexuality and sublime transformation into transcendence.” A total of 150 individual works, many of them never shown publicly until now, are spread across twenty rooms and four floors. A large group of works by Koons form the backbone of the exhibition. Highlights include Koons’ early icon Rabbit (1986); the sculptures Cracked Egg (1994-2006), and Blue Diamond (1994-2005) from the “Celebration” series; and the unveiling of his new sculpture Balloon Rabbit. According to the press materials, “Koons’ contribution acts like a mini-retrospective on the theme that forms the core of his whole oeuvre, namely, the ambivalent relationship between sexuality and transcendence.” The exhibition continues through September 19. Peruse the online photo gallery here.
- Photographs and videos by Season 1 artist William Wegman are on view at the newly refurbished City Art Centre in Edinburgh. This show is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, Scotland’s largest annual festival of visual art. William Wegman: Family Combinations focuses on the artist’s famous family of Weimaraners. Featuring more than 60 works, the exhibition illustrates the family tree of Wegman’s muse Fay and her offspring. The show consists of Polaroids, chromogenic, silver gelatin and digital prints, as well as a selection of video clips from Sesame Street. This is Wegman’s first comprehensive solo show in Scotland.
- On May 1, Season 4 artist Pierre Huyghe will present his performance piece A Live Situation (2009-10) at Le Jardin d’Acclimatation, a children’s amusement park in Paris. At the far end of the park stands an empty building that was once a folk museum. An “identity crisis” led to its closing. Huyghe’s live experiment occupies this building and involves about thirty players. Some take the part of personnel: director, guard, archivist, receptionist, etc. Others, the “interpreters,” play out situations and stories of historical significance or from recent pop culture. Also involved are “authors of culture” and specialists from different fields; they perform in the roles of, for example, actor, model, singer, comedian, magician, mentalist, hypnotist, jurist, or lawyer. This project has unfolded over the course of one year and changes with every presentation. This will be the third and final episode.
- The Museum of Modern Art’s (MOMA) recent exhibition of works by Season 2 artist Gabriel Orozco is now on view at Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Basel. The retrospective comprises installations, sculptures, photographs, paintings and drawings created by the artist since the early 1990s. To learn more about this show, see these articles on MoMA’s installation: “Slicing a Car, Fusing Bicycles and Turning Ideas Into Art,” New York Times; “A Whale of a Return to MoMA,” New York Times; “Gabriel Meets the Globe,” Artnet; “Don’t Knock the White Box,” Artinfo; “Sightlines: Great Bones,” Wall Street Journal; “Man of the World,” The New Yorker; and “Gabriel Orozco: The Art of the Readymade,” WNYC. Gabriel Orozco is on view in Switzerland through August 8.
- Last week, Season 3 artist Oliver Herring took his community art making party, Task, to the Twin Cities for a collaboration between Bethel University and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). See the MinnPost, and Minnesota Public Radio.org for more on Task. Herring’s work has been on view at both Bethel and MCAD since mid-April. MCAD’s exhibition of the artist’s sculptures closes today. Bethel’s exhibition continues through May 30.
- Season 2 artist Kiki Smith is featured in the new documentary film The Red Birds, in which director Brigitte Cornand imagines fourteen of her female artist friends in avian form. Reviewer Jeanette Catsoulis wrote this in the New York Times: “Matching voices to species — like the whiskey tones of Louise Bourgeois to the distinctive cardinal — [Cornand] layers interview fragments over rustic images of flocking and flying. Casting a playful eye on a serious topic — the relative invisibility of female artists in our culture — Ms. Cornand cannily keeps her subjects off camera and her lens on their feathered representatives. As each woman relives obstacles on her road to success, birds waddle, perch, peck and paddle, their serenity a balm to memories of conflict and self-doubt.” The Red Birds is only showing at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.
- Barbara Kruger (Season 1) has a new self-titled monograph published by Rizzoli USA. This is the most comprehensive volume on Kruger’s work to date. The book explores the past thirty years of her practice, and includes contributions by Miwon Kwon, Martha Gever, Carol Squiers, and Hal Foster. Designed to embody a manifesto-like aesthetic, the book presents “bold spreads” of the artist’s large-scale works and public projects, and many previously unpublished works.
- Season 3 artist Jessica Stockholder will be honored by the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, BC, Canada at the 2010 convocation to be held on May 1. The artist will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. Past honorary degree recipients include filmmaker Stan Douglas.
- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has received a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to commence work on the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative. The first phase of the Initiative is a three-year project to evaluate Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual works in the collection, focusing on four key American artists: Bruce Nauman (Season 1), Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Lawrence Weiner. You can view the Panza Collection here. Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, the man for whom the collection is named, passed away over the weekend. Read about his life and legacy in the Los Angeles Times.
One artist in Rome, four artists in San Francisco, three artist talks from the U.S. to the U.K., and more in this week’s roundup:
- On April 9, Gagosian Gallery Rome will open an exhibition of eight new drawings by Season 1 artist Richard Serra. Serra began working on Greenpoint Rounds in late spring of 2009. In these large-scale works, each measuring 80 inches square, a large black circle is embedded in the surface of heavy paper. According to the gallery, “Each drawing exerts a vastly different energy and exudes a singular character.” Using heated paint-stick, gummy or fluid in state, Serra built up the material so that each drawing has its own unique surface. On view through May 15.
- Tonight at 6pm, Season 1 artist Andrea Zittel will speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The artist will describe how her studio in the high desert of California serves both as a space for exploration and as a place for crafting and presenting objects, materials, spaces and ideas. Purchase tickets here.
- Don’t Piss on Me and Tell Me it’s Raining – an exhibition curated by the contemporary art news and audio site Bad at Sports – will open at apexart in New York on April 7. The exhibition features over 100 objects, images and ephemera submitted by Bad at Sports contributors and guests of the show. Art21 artists Kerry James Marshall (Season 1), and Raymond Pettibon (Season 2) are two of the many participants. Follow @Bad at Sports and the hashtag #basapex on Twitter to get the deets on exhibition installation and events.
- The Spring 2010 issue of The Georgia Review features ten images by Season 2 artist Kara Walker. Titled Riots and Outrages, the portfolio has been culled from two recent shows: Walker’s 2007 solo exhibition Bureau of Refugees, and a show (with Season 4 artist Mark Bradford) at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. last year. The title of the feature was inspired by a list of “Riots and Outrages” committed by whites that Walker discovered in the archives of the short-lived Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, the federal agency that supervised relief efforts and documented conditions related to Civil War refugees and freedmen.
- On April 9, Season 3 artist Ellen Gallagher will appear at Tate Liverpool in conversation with Romi Crawford, professor of Literature, Africana and Visual Critical Studies in the Liberal Arts Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The event – held in conjunction with the exhibition Afro Modern – begins at 6pm. Purchase tickets here.
- Mapping Identity, a group exhibition in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, explores aspects of contemporary cultural identity and the effects of displacement, exile, transnationalism, hybridity, cosmopolitanism, and the state of the “in-between.” Works by Shahzia Sikander (Season 1) and Do-Ho Suh (Season 2) are included. The Philadelphia Inquirer says, “What becomes especially vivid in this display is the extent to which the work underlines the diversity and imaginative energy of artists supposedly on the periphery.” Mapping Identity is on view through April 30.
- Works by Kiki Smith, Raymond Pettibon (both Season 2), Laurie Simmons (Season 4), and Julie Mehretu (Season 5) are currently installed in the gallery of Arion Press, the printer-publishing company located in San Francisco. On view are sixteen images of Smith’s own hair for I Love My Love, a ballad by Scottish-born San Francisco poet Helen Adam; Pettibon’s prints for Arion’s forthcoming edition of South of Heaven by Jim Thompson; Simmons’s photographs for a new limited edition of Mrs. Bridge, a mid-twentieth-century fiction novel by Evan S. Connell; and a print by Mehretu for Arion’s forthcoming edition of poetry by Sappho.
- On April 11, Mehretu will speak at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The artist (a Core Fellow at the museum’s Glassell School of Art in the late 1990s) will discuss her work, including her new suite of paintings in the exhibition Julie Mehretu: Grey Area, now traveling from Berlin to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where it will open in May. The event begins at 2pm and is free and open to the public.
- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has acquired Untitled (Dementia) by Season 4 artist Mark Bradford. Created in 2009, the twelve-panel piece is made from posters advertising services to Alzheimers sufferers. “While invoking the history of collage and its incorporation of the everyday and the readymade into the work of art,” states the press release, “Untitled (Dementia) is also a melancholic reminder of the economy it reflects, the trace of a world that formulates itself below the radar and a metaphor of forgotten histories.” Untitled (Dementia) is on view at PAFA through April 11 in the exhibition Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious. The piece will be on view again from June 26-September 12 in an exhibition of selections from PAFA’s permanent collection.
- This is the last week to see work by Cao Fei (Season 5) at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design. The group exhibition The Storyteller looks at contemporary artists who use narrative as a way to understand the social and political events of our time. Closes April 9.
- The New York Times Magazine article Can Animals Be Gay?, about the science of same-sex pairings in animals, features a series of conceptual images by Jeff Koons (Season 5). View the slideshow.
- The Toronto Star blog reports that the Art Gallery of Ontario has commissioned an outdoor installation by Barbara Kruger (Season 1) in conjunction with the Contact Festival next month. The piece will span an entire city block. Read more about it here.
- Laurie Anderson (Season 1) has announced her first studio album in a decade, featuring songs from her Homeland stage project. The LP, to be released this summer, will feature contributions from Four Tet, Antony Hegarty, and Anderson’s husband Lou Reed. The Guardian has the scoop.
Though it’s been a particularly busy past few weeks here at Art21 production HQ – creating new exclusive videos, shooting the preparation and rehearsals for William Kentridge’s Nose production at the Metropolitan Opera, and in general getting ready for our next season – this has also been quite a fertile time for documentary screenings. So I thought I’d extend my last post and talk about some more hard-to-resist documentary offerings in New York City and beyond.
But first, in my last post, I mentioned the passing of the acclaimed documentary editor Karen Schmeer. One of the very hopeful things to come out of this very, very sad event is the establishment of the Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship. Here’s the description in the words of the website:
“The Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship has been established to honor the memory and spirit of Karen. The yearlong experience encourages and champions the talent of an emerging editor. The fellowship provides opportunities to help cultivate an editor’s artistry and craft and to expand his or her professional and creative community.”
Now, on to the screenings. This programming can’t really be defined as art-related, though; the films are a little too important and interesting to pass up for editorial niceties. First, I really need to mention the yearlong screening series of the films of legendary and still active documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman at the Modern Museum of Art in New York. MoMA is showing all his films to date – a remarkable 39 works, including his latest project, Boxing Gym (2009) – through the end of the year. If you’re anywhere in the area, it behooves you to at least catch one. And if you’re interested in an almost encyclopedic depiction of the world on film, then take this probably once in a lifetime chance and see all of them (and if you do, I’d love to hear from you). Though I’m sad to report that classics like Titicut Follies (1967) – once banned by the Massachusetts Supreme Court – and High School (1968) have already shown, there’s still a lot of great screenings left. Next up is Juvenile Court (1973) on March 18. Go here for the schedule. And if you’re looking for a little help in navigating an admittedly intimidating body of work, check out filmmaker and avowed Wiseman fan Errol Morris’s amusingly alternative guide here.
In this week’s roundup, Art21 artists play with fire, sign new books, design stained glass, collage basketballs, create new films, and pop up in Miami Beach exhibitions:
- Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati is paying homage to installation art with their exhibition Walls, Ceiling & Floors, which focuses on the transformation of space through large-scale works by 15 different artists. Among them is Ohio native Ann Hamilton (Season 1) who has delicately burned walls of the space (pictured above) to “create a dense environment.” Walls, Ceiling & Floors continues through December 23.
- The Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio has announced that Mark Bradford (Season 4) is one of three recipients of their 2009-10 Residency Award. Bradford will develop new work for his survey exhibition Mark Bradford: You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You), on view at the Wexner beginning May 8, 2010. His projects will include a new sculpture entitled Lazarus, comprised of more than 1,000 collaged basketballs; Pinocchio, a sound-based sculptural environment that explores the social experiences of a young black man growing up in L.A. in the early 1980s; and the film Mithra, which documents and reflects on his mammoth public sculpture created for Prospect.1 in New Orleans.
- Kiki Smith (Season 2) has been commissioned (along with architect Deborah Gans) to design a stained glass window for the Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Founded in 1887, the original window has been missing since the mid 1940s, when the congregation had it removed due to high maintenance costs. The new window is scheduled for completion in the spring. The New York Times is one of many media outlets to report on this commission; read more about the project on their Arts Beat blog.
- On Wed., December 2, Walton Ford (Season 2) will lecture and sign copies of his new book, Pancha Tantra, at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The program begins at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public. (New paintings by Ford are on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York through December 23.)
- Paste Up, a survey of early work by Barbara Kruger (Season 1), is on view at Sprueth Magers London through January 23. The title of the exhibition reflects the professional term for the works on view and underscores the influence Kruger’s experience as a magazine editorial designer had on her career.
- Spazialismo, a group exhibition at Bitforms Gallery in New York City, takes the writings of Argentinian artist Lucio Fontana as its point of departure. Through works by Matthew Ritchie (Season 3), Mel Bochner, R. Luke DuBois, Michael Joaquin Grey, and Yael Kanarek, Fontana’s mid-twentieth century concepts of space in the modern yet natural world are explored. Spazialismo closes December 30.
If you’re in Florida this week for Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), here’s a few things to check out:
- The annual Rubell Family Collection exhibition is this year inspired by Picasso’s saying, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Beg, Borrow, and Steal highlights the works of 74 late and living artists who “embrace their influences even as they reinvent them.” Works by Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger (both Season 1), Jenny Holzer (Season 4), Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, Allan McCollum, Jeff Koons, and Paul McCarthy (all Season 5) are included in this display. The Collection opens at 9am on Wed., December 2. Admission is free during ABMB.
- On Thurs., December 3 at noon, the Bass Museum of Art will debut Latin America’s largest private collection of contemporary art; the collection has never before been shown in the United States. Where Do We Go From Here? Selections from La Coleccion Jumex brings together familiar names on the international art circuit, such as Mike Kelley (Season 1) and Urs Fisher, with Mexican conceptualists Damian Ortega, Inaki Bonillas and Stephan Bruggeman. Visitors with a Bass Museum invitation, VIP card, exhibitor’s pass, press pass, or Bass Museum membership card can attend the opening reception on Wed., December 2, 8-10pm.
- The Swiss Institute has published a calendar of New York artists photographed on their bicycles. Collier Schorr (Season 2), Pierre Huyghe (Season 4), and Cindy Sherman (Season 5) are pictured. This limited-edition piece will be unveiled later this week at ABMB, however, it can be immediately ordered online or downloaded as a PDF.
- On Fri., December 4, catch up with Schorr at the book launch for Forest and Fields. Volume 2. Blumen. Forest and Fields is an ongoing suite of artist’s books; each volume is part diary, photo annual, palimpsest, and scrapbook. In the latest release, Schorr focuses on arrangements in landscapes and domestic and commercial settings. This program is part of ABMB Salon, an open platform for discussion with an emphasis on current themes in contemporary art. The event begins at 5pm.
How many artists are there in the world right now? Let’s be honest. No matter how globalized we’re constantly being reminded the art world is – in symposia, biennales, lists of powerful people, and the perennial curatorial job description as”‘working between Berlin, LA and Sao Paolo” (pithily pointed out in Hyperallergic) – the contemporary art world barely represents a fraction of artists actually working right now. The art world is a world, not the world, and so it’s perhaps ironic that the institution currently most actively and successfully articulating that idea has sprung up alongside the festivities and venalities of the Frieze Art Fair: the Museum of Everything, a temporary exhibition space in north London, established to display “outsider art” (according to the Museum, “the untrained, unintentional and unseen”).
There are many miraculous things about the Museum of Everything, one of which is its location, right in the heart of the very posh and celebrified Primrose Hill. A huge, semi-dilapidated space that’s been both a dairy and a recording studio, it’s a series of small, scruffy rooms and one huge one, in cracked concrete and rusted beams, which is much less of a cynical presentation style for outsider art than it sounds. The perennial problem of outsider art – apart from its roll call of artists, which includes Henry Darger, Bill Traylor, and Martin Ramirez but not, say, Henri Rousseau or Vincent Van Gogh, despite their very evident fulfillment of “outsider” criteria – is that of presentation. Is a clean, white, sterile gallery space appropriate? Probably not, given its similarity to a mental institution. But a studiedly “mad” and shambolic location is pretty patronizing, too. The Museum of Everything has hedged its bets, and it’s probably as good as it can be — eccentric to a point, but careful and thoughtful above all. The collection, amassed by filmmaker James Brett, has no precedent in UK museums; there’s no outsider art in the Tate Modern collection (or at least none displayed), and the nearest dedicated museum space is in the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The absence is puzzling, given the rich tradition of eccentricity in the work of William Blake, say, or the amazing Richard Dadd. Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s Folk Archive, shown in the Barbican several years ago, came close, but there’s still no UK equivalent to the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Brett’s museum points towards the articulation of voices left out from mainstream British museum collections, although its permanence is somewhat in question (“if people come, we’ll stay open”).
It’s a collection of amazing quality. Despite no Ramirez, Wolfli or Hundertwasser, there’s a suite of staggering Henry Darger drawings and Bill Traylor paintings as good as any in US collections. Darger’s work continually eludes reductive analysis. His 15,000 page illustrated novel, The Story of the Vivian Girls, prefigures so many contemporary artists’ work, from Jeff Koons to Peter Doig to Marcel Dzama, that it’s sometimes difficult to imagine him working entirely guilelessly. Yet Darger did, working on his vast manuscript and several others entirely in private; this is, as Peter Schjeldahl pointed out, “a culture of one.” And those seeking psychoanalytical rebuses in Darger’s skipping, panicky prepubescent girls would do well to address the works themselves, which are stranger and more resistant to join-the-dots analysis than the biography might suggest.
Brett’s collection also features significant works by artists fostered through Creative Growth in Oakland, California. In a talk by Creative Growth director Tom di Maria and White Columns director Matthew Higgs during Frieze, the work of this nurturing organization – and its roots in radical politics – was discussed. Established over 35 years ago to provide studio and exhibition space, as well as tuition and support for local artists with disabilities, Creative Growth is (in Higgs’ words) “the most important cultural institution of our time.” Higgs has shown a number of Creative Growth artists at White Columns in New York, including the bound objects of Judith Scott. Scott’s works – bulbous, hanging forms, like internal organs or musical instruments, tightly bound in coloured threads – seem unwilling to be described as sculpture. Although artistic kinship can be found in the work of Franz West or Louise Bourgeois, the fact that Scott, who died in 2005, was a deaf woman with Down’s Syndrome who came to art making late in life via Creative Growth, transforms the viewer’s experience. So complete and insistent is Scott’s work that it renders artistic parallels somewhat futile, and comparable artists mannered.
That earnest intensity makes many outsider works both compelling and disturbing. Given that this is work made in “a culture of one,” what’s the role of the viewer here? One can feel complicit in a kind of voyeuristic, sometimes prurient fascination with the lives of the unwittingly and unintentionally excluded. It’s easy to find oneself convulsed in art world guilt over these works, but it’s disingenuous to self-flagellate over the sensation of reading the diaries of madmen. If the works’ communication is only with themselves (which is perhaps the abiding connection between artists whose work is as hugely diverse as the many thousands of nuanced “conditions” they labored under), then the viewer is experiencing a kind of pure blast of creativity unfettered by the heavy breathing of institutional requirements or conventions.
Art is made everywhere, all the time. Another Creative Growth artist, William Scott (no relation to either Judith or the British abstract painter), is shown in the Museum of Everything in some depth. His paintings act as a kind of surrogate social life denied to the artist himself. He appears as “The Tolerant Popular Guy” in a number of self-portraits, and shows himself as a high school basketball star, a besuited prom attendee, a successful police officer, a happy husband. His meticulous pencil drawings show maps of towns he’d inhabit in a “normal” life; he makes paintings of a utopian future San Francisco, ruled over by beaming, voluptuous female bureaucrats. Scott’s disabilities mean that he has had to fictionalize a conventionally successful life; the basketball portrait is emblazoned with the phrase, “Reinvent The Past.” Given that so many of the artists we’d conventionally classify as “outsiders” so successfully, and so variously, fulfill the criteria we should be demanding from artists of our time – command of materials, breadth of imagination, frank and unflinching assessment of the world around them – is it time to start thinking outside-in – and inside-out?
If you’re lucky enough to be in New York City during Performa 09 this month, there are a number of events featuring Art21 artists that are not to be missed! Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
William Kentridge: I Am Not Me, the Horse is Not Mine
Monday, November 9 – Tuesday, November 10, 8:00pm
A comic and visually dazzling performance by Season 5 artist William Kentridge, in I Am Not Me, the Horse is Not Mine, Kentridge gives an unusual presentation related to his current opera-in-progress: a work inspired by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s satirical opera The Nose, based on the Nikolai Gogol short story of the same name.
>> WATCH: William Kentridge preview from Art:21 Season 5
The PROMPT (a night club)
Wednesday, November 11 – Sunday, November 15, 8:00pm
A conceptual social club under the influence of Futurist Variety Theater, cues and propositions are offered each night in the form of conversation pieces, rules, performances and soundtracks, transforming this destination into a pressure cooker for ideas and intimacies. Participants include Art21 artist Mark Dion, among many, many others. Space is limited. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> WATCH: Mark Dion in Art:21 Season 4
Mike Kelley: Day is Done Judson Church Dance
Tuesday November 17 – Thursday, November 19 at 8pm and 10pm
In the first of two related Performa projects, Season 3 artist Mike Kelley will present three short dance/performance pieces in the Judson Memorial Church inspired by the darkly funny vignettes in his 2005 film and video installation Day Is Done. Premiering will be Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #33 (Ladder Piece), a work involving 13 people assembled on and around a large ladder playing music on horns.
>> WATCH: Mike Kelley directing Day is Done (Art:21 Season 3)
Oliver Herring: 3 Day Weekend
Friday, November 20, 6:30-8:30pm, Saturday, November 21, 3-5pm, and Sunday November 22, 3-6pm
3 Day Weekend is both a performance and material for a live video shoot. The Weekend will unfold as a series of interactions built over the course of three days with a group of people who were chosen through an open application process. The actions will be physical, dance related, mostly unrehearsed and therefore unpredictable. Art21 artist Oliver Herring will both “direct” the actions and film the footage.
>> WATCH: Participant Davis Thompson-Moss talking about working with Oliver Herring (Art:21 Exclusive)
A Fantastic World Superimposed on Reality: A Select History of Experimental Music
Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21, 6pm – midnight
Mike Kelley project #2: a mini noise music festival. In 1973, Kelley formed his own band, Destroy All Monsters. A Fantastic World continues Kelley’s continued interest in musical subcultures and focuses specifically on avant-garde music and sound art. Staged over two days, the festival will present both historic works from artists such as John Cage, Fred Frith, Fluxus, Bruce Nauman, and Max Neuhaus as well as performances by contemporary proponents of experimental music including Airway, Joan La Barbara, Tony Conrad, Jad Fair & Lumberob, Arto Lindsay, Genesis Breyer P.Orridge, z’ev, and John Zorn.
>> WATCH: Mike Kelley playing and recording music (Art:21 Season 3)
The Frieze Art Fair, like other kinds of trade fair, isn’t really designed for those outside of the trade it exists to buffer; it’s a bonus if you end up seeing things you like. The organizers’ great trick is to make a trade fair the hub of a weekend of frenetic cultural activity, with big-name museum retrospectives at Tate Modern, the Hayward, and the Serpentine strongarmed into a subsidiary role. Picture an agricultural show or office furniture exposition taking such a commanding presence in the wider culture and you get a sense of the strangeness of the way we experience art now (plus the fact that members of the public paid upwards of £20 to get in). To leaven the outright commercialism of the fair itself, there are the much-vaunted “fringe” events: Club Nutz, a recreation of “the world’s smallest comedy club” in Milwaukee, the SUPERFLEX collective’s series of short films about the financial crisis, experimental/spoken word radio station Resonance FM’s temporary lodgings in the midst of the fair, and Jordan Wolfson’s theoretical physicists discussing string theory at various strategic locations. For all their whimsical appeal, visitors can’t help but sense the sugaring of pills, even while nodding insiderishly at Club Nutz’s techno set played backwards, which sounded like Robocop having a migraine.
Strategically released rumors had it that gallerists were quietly confident about sales, perhaps since many plumped for sure-fire market winners. Current Turbine Hall occupant Miroslaw Balka’s rust-encrusted bric-a-brac popped up several times, as did Emin’s neon scrawls and wall-sized Gilbert and Georges. A lobby-sized Tuymans faced off against a lobby-sized Polke, as if daring collectors to make a choice. Thankfully, not all galleries played it entirely safe. Charles Ray’s hypnotic Moving Wire (1988) at Matthew Marks – aluminium wires slowly protruding from a hole in the wall, quivering under their own weight, then retracting turtleishly back – insisted on a quiet absorption impossible not to give. Jack Strange’s display of MacBooks at Limoncello, each belonging to a different friend of the artist, showed random flippings through their subjects’ iPhoto and iTunes collections, in what was ostensibly a kind of contemporary portraiture but ended up good voyeuristic fun. Art21’s very own Ida Applebroog showed a suite of scary and lush new paintings at Hauser and Wirth alongside a lovely, zinging Mary Heilmann called Some Pretty Colours. Sadly the Heilmann was drowned out by a pair of dirty socks; dumped on the floor in front of the painting, they’re a work by Christoph Buchel. Apparently they reached their asking price of $30,000, lending credence to the truism that a good sign in the art world is literally a sign of insanity in the real one.
Even in a comparatively sober year, Frieze has a carnivalesque brashness about it, and it’s interesting that the major museum shows (of which more next time) that have coincided with the fair’s brief dominance take up the circumspection that is touched upon, if briefly, in the fair itself. At Tate Modern, Miroslaw Balka’s installation in the Turbine Hall – a vast metal room on stilts, accessible by a walkway, whose interior is entirely, pitilessly black, entitled, with weird post-Jacksonian resonance, How It Is – must have been an extraordinarily enveloping experience when first encountered (in other words, in its embryonic press-view state). Sadly, its location sets up certain expectations (light-heartedness, accessibility, interactivity) established by earlier occupants of the site, and the clanging of feet on the metal floor, and the hovering blue squares of mobile phone screens, make it feel like The Buchenwald Experience.
If you’re an artist installing works in an existing museum building, you can either accept the limitations of the space and the collection, or – if you’re Damien Hirst – you can rehang entire galleries in stripy linen to show your latest works to maximum effect. His latest show, entitled, with a characteristic blend of pomposity and unwitting irony, No Love Lost, is a display of paintings made (and this has been used as a selling point, astonishingly) entirely by himself. That they’re weak ’50s Bacon rip-offs knocked out with breathtaking ineptitude is not really the point. The point is that Hirst has been able to wangle decent gallery space inside the Wallace Collection, in the historical collection’s first ever show by a living artist. It’s another example of historical collections’ craven and weak-kneed approach to contemporary art. With an eye on one of Hirst’s gloopy, gloomy skull paintings, you can look through to a Poussin. Guess who looks more conservative, small-souled, and joyless? Go on, guess.
In a big, sprawling, multi-tentacular artsfest like the Edinburgh Festival, certain forms of art – like, say, one-woman mime interpretations of the career of Robin Williams, or freestyle macrame workshops – tend to get drowned out under the clamor of what has become an almost entirely comedy-centric festival, bankrolled by cigar-chomping commercial behemoths. “A sell-out” is standard festival-speak for “a success,” but it’s all too eloquent of what the festival appears to have become. The Edinburgh Art Festival runs concurrently with the comedy and theater festivals, and this year has chosen to withdraw into an erudite, multifarious and thoughtful analysis of the city’s intellectual past and present. And while its refusal to participate in the barking rhetoric of its (let’s face it) less economically stable artistic cousins looks passive-aggressive, even truculent, it’s resulted in one of the most engaging and coherent Art Festivals in years.
While no homogenous curatorial scheme unites the Edinburgh Art Festival, there is a loose theme of “Enlightenment” shared by large-scale theatrical and musical events in the International Festival. Spread out across a number of venues, The Enlightenments (curated by Australian Juliana Engberg) explores the legacy of the intellectual climate of 18th-century Scotland, immortalized in the thickets of classical columns and gridded streets throughout the city. In the Dean Gallery (perhaps best-known for its extraordinary collection of European Surrealism and British Pop), Engberg has installed a loose-synapsed roam through recent explorations of empiricism. Joshua Mosley’s dread, his short animated film of Pascal and Rousseau anachronistically bumping into each other in a forest, and Tacita Dean’s Presentation Sisters, her muzzy, autumnal film of Irish nuns pottering about in their convent, may only have passing relevance to Engberg’s theme (and each other), but as investigations of the nature of faith in a relentlessly empirical world, they strike a resonant blow for mystery. And underneath Eduardo Paolozzi’s massive steel Vulcan, four singers and a ukelele, as part of Gabrielle de Vietri’s performance Hark!, perform that day’s international news as a kind of tribute to pre-modern means of information. Their song about the (then impending) release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi provided one of those neck-hair-elevations you can forget are possible in contemporary art.
Meanwhile, in the Talbot Rice Gallery in the heart of the University’s Old College, Jane and Louise Wilson’s Unfolding The Aryan Papers is the sisters’ richest work to date. The film, shown on a huge screen between two mirrored panels, centers around Dutch actress Johanna ter Steege, the heroine of Stanley Kubrick’s cancelled project The Aryan Papers, his aborted attempt at tackling the Holocaust on film. The Wilsons intersperse, with hypnotic elegance and poise, the director’s own obsessive headshots of the actress (mouth open, mouth closed, in various dresses), the actress’s own recreations of the early stages of character development, and stills of Kubrick’s location shoots, his calibated yardstick (cast as bronze copies in another room) propped in each shot like a signature. On one level, the film is an examination of the notion of the female subject battling to be heard above the steamrolling male creative ego, but it slips its own polemic shackles by quietly asserting its own casual beauty, hovering on a small constellation of buttons on a sleeve with a kind of defiance.
Turner Prize nominee Lucy Skaer continues her collaboration with filmmaker Rosalind Nashashibi in their new film, Our Magnolia, at the marvelous doggerfisher gallery on the other side of the city. In a similar spirit to the Wilson sisters’ magpie bricolage, the artists have threaded found and original footage together in a sort of tribute to the double image. Bookended by unsteady shots of British Surrealist Paul Nash’s Flight of the Magnolia (1944), the film flits between images of the desecrated Museum of Baghdad, a rotting dog’s corpse on a beach, and headshots of Margaret Thatcher, sunblanched on an office table. In both films, beauty appears like a surprise, captured unaware. And while I spent most of the train journey back trying to remember the best jokes I’d heard (something about chimps, something about milk), what stayed were those still, intense, commanding images from Dean and the Wilsons’ films, which were great for this post, but not so good for my social life. But, you know…
- On view through October 4th at the Katonah Museum is Dress Codes: Clothing As Metaphor. 36 artists tackle wide-ranging issues from feminism to globalism using clothing as the medium. The list includes Art21′s Louise Bourgeois, Oliver Herring, and Do-Ho Suh.
- Closing this week at the Berkeley Art Museum is Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye, curated by Lawrence Rinder. The museum’s director has selected a number of works that survey the evolution of the institution’s holdings, from Albert Bierstadt, to Hans Hofmann, to Barry McGee (Season 1). Through August 30.
- Extended Family is currently on extended view at the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition looks at the loose establishment that has come to define “family values” and the art world, which reaches beyond geographical and blood lines. Extended Family is culled from the museum’s permanent collection and highlights a host of artists, including Ghada Amer, Nick Cave, Vera Lutter, Louise Bourgeois(Season 2), and Fred Wilson (Season 3).
- In its 40th year, the venerable Rencontres d’Arles photo festival is up for a few more weeks until September 13th. Known for championing the art form that is photography, this year’s edition features a special exhibition curated by Nan Goldin, as well as this solo exhibition by Roni Horn (Season 3).
- Have you ever wondered how the art world would shake up if Cindy Sherman (Season 5) were a male painter, making the same images except on large scale canvases using paint? Enter John Grande, whose solo show posits this exact scenario. My Cindy, Your Cindy is up through September 3 at Sara Nightingale Gallery in Shelter Island.